I always find myself the happiest when I am creating something within a group. There is a special kind of joy and exhilaration when I laugh with my sisters, sing in church, or when I meet friends for painting, skiing, hiking, walks, or coffee. For most people, the happiest times are those spent among family and friends where we feel loved, accepted, and supported.
Human beings came together in groups first to survive, but together they were able to thrive.
Having community is essential to our health and well-being, and we treasure the moments when we can come together to celebrate weddings, birthdays and holidays. The flip side of those happy times are the difficult situations in our lives, when we may need encouragement and support from others.
As one of the founders of sociology, Emile Durkheim coined the term “collective consciousness” to describe the sense of pure joy, energy and harmony we feel when we come together as a group with shared interests. (The Division of Labor in Society, 1893). These common bonds bring people together and are the nucleus of shared community.
I believe support groups are an essential part of community at some point in one’s life. When we are dealing with medical, addictive, or mental health concerns for ourselves or our loved ones, a support group can be invaluable. These communities start with shared values and can provide encouragement and connection when we are feeling isolated or overwhelmed. Caregiver support groups are places where people can share their experiences, and where their knowledge and examples can often be helpful to others. Connections and strong bonds can be formed as we share the difficult passages in our lives with those that may be having similar experiences.
My plethora of support groups have had a tremendous impact on my life over the years. I am so grateful to have in person and online support that has encouraged me to create and connect.
I had an epiphany this week as I was cleaning and singing along with Barbra Streisand as she crooned,
“People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”
(Composed by Jule Styne with lyrics by Bob Merrill).
It occurred to me that people who HAVE people are really the luckiest people, because they have built a community around themselves.
Supportive communities can remind us that we matter and encourage us to find ways to strengthen our own health and resilience. Sometimes it’s just comforting to know that we are not alone, and that we are not the first or the last to have these life experiences. As spring starts to bloom in the Elk Valley, are there opportunities for you to connect and create community for yourself? I encourage you to take time today to think about the community that you need to support your well-being.
The Elk Valley Caregiver Support Group meets at Mugshots at 3:30pm the 4th Wednesday of each month.
For more info on support groups contact:
Marianne Agnew, Elk Valley Caregiver Support Facilitator: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Caregivers Network for East Kootenay Seniors Facebook page
Toll free line 1-877-489-0803. Caregiversnetworkek.com